I love horror stories and I love my Kindle, so it was a given that Diavolino was one of the first novels I read when it was released as an ebook, but... I have still been waiting oh so impatiently to get my hands on a physical copy to add to my collection of horror novels. Now, at last, it is has been released in paperback, so if you’ve wanted to read it but don’t have an ereader, now’s your chance. I thought I’d take the opportunity to mark the occasion by catching up with author, Steve Emmett.
Steve: It’s actually quite strange, to tell you the truth, and not for the reasons you may think. On the one hand it’s great to have a book that can stand on the shelf in pride of place next to King, Barker, Wheatley and co. – absolutely so. Diavolino has a fabulous cover and I’m still enjoying seeing it ‘in the flesh’ and in glorious colour. But I have grown to prefer reading on my Kindle, so this somehow tempers my feelings. It might be a bit like a loving parent who, try as they might, simply cannot stop themselves having a favourite amongst their children. But I do love them both. The paperback is more tactile and I can hug it (ew, do horror writers hug things? Choke?), but I will always read the e-book! Erm, you do realise I’m as weird as any of the characters I create, don’t you? (Erm, yes I do :-) )
Julia: Diavolino can be read by a wider audience now that it is available as a paperback. How does that make you feel?
Steve: Well that’s the big issue, isn’t it? Whilst I have fallen for e-books I do realise that the majority of book readers have not. Not yet! When I was looking for a publisher I didn’t want one that would produce only an e-book, and that’s why I submitted to Etopia Press. It didn’t matter to me that the e-book would come well in advance. On reflection I think that’s been a positive thing, since Diavolino has had chance to garner tremendous reviews before the paperback is launched. Over the last ten months or so I’ve had so many people asking when they would be able to get their hands on a print copy. Now they can. I have to admit it’s a wonderful feeling. I am proud of Diavolino and want as many people as possible to be able to read it.
Julia: Finding a publisher interested in the horror genre seems to be quite a difficult task, but you found a home for your novel with Etopia Press. Did you always believe that you would be published? Did you ever have any moments of doubt?
Steve: Doubt is my middle name. I’ve told you – I am weird (maybe that’s why the horror genre attracts me) and I have a kind of split personality. One half of me is a pessimist; I see the half-empty glass not the half-full, if anything can go wrong it will, I was cursed at birth (if not before) and I am never lucky. The other half is supremely positive and driven; if I decide to do something I move heaven and earth in order to do it – when I set my mind on something I permit nothing and no one to get in my way. In my life I have made huge changes several times, the kind of changes that cause some to give up. So, on the one hand I took each rejection slip personally and descended into unfathomable gloom. But then the other me picked myself up, reminded me how much I wanted this and pressed on. It was those around me who never doubted I’d get published, to be honest. Their support helped greatly. And still does.
Steve: I enjoyed it. I wanted to do it to see how it was in reality. And yes, I will write more short stories in 2012. But!
I am a firm believer in ‘never say never’, but right at this moment I have no intention of self-publishing a novella or novel. Whatever the actual result, whatever the reviewers say, I personally care very much about the quality of what I put out in the public domain. Readers deserve to have the best. As a writer I want my books to be as good as they can be. The only way this can be achieved is by having your book professionally edited – and this means much more than correcting typos and grammar. The process of writing a novel is time consuming. In fact it is all consuming. Obviously, I have never given birth (I’ve got the stretch marks though!) but producing a novel has to be something akin to it; months of growth with varying degrees of hormonal disturbance, sickness, sleepless nights etc., culminating in a painful and messy last scene and a joyous finale.
I have noticed quite a few ‘writers’ bragging that they’ve written novels in a fortnight – novellas in a weekend – and had them ready to submit for publication! I think it’s bollocks. Those books must be dreadful. Now, imagine if that gets self-published without any professional taking hold of the manuscript. And they are out there, ready to download to your e-reader from around 99 cents a-piece (chewing gum costs more).
For me it’s also important to have the ‘stamp of approval’ of a good publisher. Who am I, for God’s sake, to decide my work is fit for human consumption? Let a professional with knowledge of the industry be the first judge of that. And yes, this does mean the novel won’t be for sale at 99 cents, but I hold the view that with books, as with everything else in life, you get what you pay for. I’d rather read one good book for $15 than fifteen crap ones. You can buy wine for $3 a bottle but do you want to poison your system? It’s the same. Crap writing poisons the mind and soul.
Julia: Your novel will be sitting on my shelf beside books written by some of my favourite horror authors – Clive Barker, James Herbert, Stephen King. How does that make you feel?
Steve: I’d be proud to have my book on your shelf even if it were beside Barbara Cartland and The Best of Mills and Boon. (You've been peeking at my secret bookcase, haven't you!)
Julia: I read a lot of horror and ghost stories as a kid, and James Herbert really caught my imagination as a teenager– I read The Fog, and then read every other Herbert book I could get my hands on. What was your very first introduction to horror literature? Did this influence your choice of genre when you decided to write a novel?
Steve: Good old Dennis Wheatley (incidentally, did you know that someone is writing as Dennis Wheatley? I got the sample and realised something was up as soon as I read it – very American, very street language (or whatever it’s called) and definitely not a long lost DW from the archives!). I can’t remember how old I was but I’d guess around nine, and I read The Haunting of Toby Jugg. Actually, I can’t remember anything about it now but it triggered my interest in the mysterious and macabre. There was never any question that I would write anything but horror.
Julia: I have many ideas for stories battling for attention in my mind, and all of them will make it on to the page at some point. Do you have lots of ideas for future horror novels flitting around your head, or do you wait for one strong idea to strike and then concentrate on that?
Steve: My brain is an Aladdin’s cave of foulness but I don’t commit anything to paper until it is fairly well-developed. The most I will do is make a quick outline of each because I can write only one novel at a time – I can’t dip in and out. I am rather handicapped in a way, in that my handwriting is illegible even to myself so I can’t jot down ideas on a pad when I’m out and about. I suppose I should carry a voice recorder but it seems so…wanky.
Julia: Have you ever come up with an idea for a story so horrific you’ve shocked yourself?
Steve: Yes. It was my autobiography and I nearly crapped myself. I decided it wasn’t fit for consumption and took the pages to the local crematorium to be properly destroyed.
Julia: My life can be a bit hectic so I enjoy reading novellas on my Kindle. There seems to be plenty of erotica and romance in this format, but not so many horror stories. I’ve certainly considered trying my hand at this length of story. Would you consider writing horror novellas? Do you think there is a market for them?
Steve: Oh, definitely. I think e-books are the ideal medium for shorter works such as short stories and novellas. A good two hour read is something I’ve grown to enjoy. Let us not forget that the greats – M R James, H P Lovecraft and so on – wrote short works. It is only in recent times that the commercial publishers lost interest. I hope they will see the error of their ways.
Julia: What are you working on at the moment?
Steve: I’m just finishing a horror novel set largely in Rome about vampires, sin, loyalty, betrayal and gods. No sparkling, no Chevrolet trucks - just evil and darkness. I’ve started and shelved a disturbing psychological horror and I would like to finish it this year. I might come up with one or two shorts in addition.
Thank you for taking the time to chat. I’ve pulled you away from your writing for long enough – so get back to it. I hope to see something new from you sooner rather than later (did I say I’m impatient?) Oh, and will you sign my book, please? :-)
Steve: Glad to – but you’ll never read the signature!
You can buy Diavolino in paperback from:
Barnes & Noble
Also now available in the UK from The Book Depository and Amazon
You can find Steve lurking in these places...
And... I have my copy at last! Got a pen, Steve?